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IIT's Mauritius venture off

IIT Delhi's research academy in Mauritius appears to have died an untimely death after the scant interest shown by the governments of India and the island nation in taking it forward.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 29.07.15
  •  

New Delhi, July 28: IIT Delhi's research academy in Mauritius appears to have died an untimely death after the scant interest shown by the governments of India and the island nation in taking it forward.

The International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA) was set up in July last year as a joint venture of IIT Delhi and the Mauritius Research Council. A year on, it has stopped admissions to its PhD and Master of Science in Research programmes for this July semester.

Professor S.M. Ishtiaque of IIT Delhi, who was deputed as the executive director of IITRA, has returned. He rejoined the institute earlier this month.

The Mauritius government has told the eight faculty members selected for IITRA that the project is on hold and they cannot join the academy, sources in the HRD ministry and IIT Delhi have said. It has also stopped releasing funds, prompting the academy to stop procuring equipment for labs.

Five students were given admission to IITRA last year but no classes have been held because there is no proper campus. These students are pursuing their courses in IIT Delhi at the moment, and would have moved to IITRA eventually. "Nothing was moving. There are no faculty, no progress on a permanent campus. I decided not to waste time," Ishtiaque said.

The untimely end of the academy can be attributed to neglect by the governments of Mauritius and India in the last few months. The project was conceptualised and executed in 2013 when the UPA regime was in power and Mauritius was governed by the Labour Party.

After the NDA came to power in May 2014, it began scrutinising the bilateral arrangement. So did the new Mauritius government headed by Anerood Jugnauth of the Alliance Lepep coalition, which took charge in December 2014.

HRD minister Smriti Irani has questioned the legality of the project. She told the Lok Sabha on April 27 that the project would entail spending taxpayers' money, which meant it would violate the Institute of Technology Act. However, IIT Delhi has denied any financial commitment for IITRA.